HOUSTON, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. college students say they are using genetic engineering to create beer with resveratrol, a substance in grapes shown to reduce cancer and heart disease.
A group of Rice University students say Rice's "BioBeer" will be entered in the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition scheduled for Nov. 8-9 in Cambridge, Mass. -- the world's largest synthetic biology competition.
"After last year's contest, we were sitting around talking about what we'd do this year," said junior Taylor Stevenson says in a statement. "Peter Nguyen, a graduate student, made a joke about putting resveratrol into beer, but none of us took it seriously."
But when the team began looking in earnest for a new project this spring, they discovered a good bit of published literature about modifying yeast with resveratrol-related genes. When they looked further, they found two detailed accounts by teams that had attacked both halves of the metabolic problem independently, Taylor said.
The students have focused on creating a genetically modified strain of yeast that will ferment beer and produce resveratrol at the same time.
Most undergraduates on the team aren't old enough to buy beer, but the students said it will take a while before anybody can actually consume the new product.